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Apple iPod 5G review

Video compatible feature is more of an afterthought

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Our Verdict

There's no debating the iPod's position as cultural icon and top class audio player, but its movie credentials are poor

For

  • Ease of use
  • Clean style
  • Performance

Against

  • 4:3 screen

This, the fifth generation of Apple's music player, is the first with video compatibility, but this newfound feature is more of an afterthought than a top selling point.

Why? Well, let's start with the screen. While it does an admirable job of producing vibrant colours, it's the wrong shape and size for most video files.

The shape is 4:3, meaning that, in order to fit, widescreen material either has to be letterboxed or panned and scanned - and letterboxing something on a screen as small as the iPod's 2.5 incher seems really silly. Panning and scanning, on the other hand, chops the sides off the picture, so either way you're losing something.

Then there are the video files themselves. Apple doesn't want you to put MPEG or DiVX movies on its device, so you need to either download preformatted videos from the web or shell out another $29.99 (around £17) for Quicktime Pro and convert your existing videos to the correct format.

It's hardly the fuss-free, user-friendly stuff we've come to expect from Apple. You can buy videos from the iTunes store, but the selection is currently limited to a slender number of music promos and a few Pixar animated shorts.

If we're talking about portable music players, however, there's still nothing around to match the iPod's blend of clean styling, ease of use and performance. You can cram thousands of songs on its hard drive and yet, at only 11mm in depth, it's slimmer than the previous model.

Instant classic

The clickwheel used to navigate through the menus is an instant design classic - it's incredibly easy to get to grips with and responds like a dream to the slightest touch - while the menus themselves are clear and crisp on the screen.

There are those that say the iPod's sound quality is poor. Ignore them - even with the supplied headphones you get a decent sonic performance.

Overall, there's no debating the iPod's position as cultural icon and top class audio player. Its movie credentials, on the other hand, are poor - perhaps the widescreen model Apple is rumoured to be working on will remedy this.